I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Days With the Legislature 2008

This past Thursday and Friday, myself and three of my fellow Escambia County School Board members spent some time with our lawmakers in Tallahassee. As many are realizing, our state budget is being reduced and will shrink to about 65 billion this year, down from 72 billion last year. This shortfall is a result of the overall economic slowdown that is happening all around the state and the nation. With the knowledge that education and healthcare are the two largest state budget categories, I do understand that we as a school district are in for a budget cut. I also understand that the picture does not get any better for 2009 or 2010 either. With respect to education funding in Florida, it looks as though we will be on a rocky road for the near term. For my part, I spoke directly with Dave Murzin, Durell Peaden, and Greg Evers. I asked them to do what they could to keep educational funding cuts to a minimum. I also requested that they refrain from passing any more legislation that would create additional unfunded mandates for local boards to contend with. I also spoke out about the apparent erosion of local control of school boards around the state; I feel local control of school systems by each district's locally elected school board is essential. Fianally, I asked them to do what they could to keep the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program the way it is right now--a Merit Based scholarship program--not a needs based one. I believe this program is a bright spot in education in Florida, and is a positive benefit that has been funded via lottery proceeds. The sense I got from the representatives I spoke with was that Bright Futures was not going to be changed to a needs based program.

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